Amber characters are defined by four attributes: Endurance, Strength, Psyche and Warfare.
Attributes start at zero (called Amber level) and can be bought up to what is called ‘ranked’. Once you have a score in an attribute, you will be ranked against your peers. You may not know how many points others have in an attribute, but you will know if they are better, or worse, than you are.
Attributes can also be bought down to gain extra points during character creation. Buying an attribute down to Chaos level will net you 10 points. Buying an attribute down to Human level will net you 25 points.
Your character must have Endurance and one other attribute at Amber level to have walked the Pattern. That doesn’t mean you can’t buy those attributes down – you just need to come up with a reason for the drop since walking the Pattern.
Though it is primarily a measure of how much injury, torture, disease, fatigue, and physical discomfort your character can endure, Endurance also governs how long and at what level your character can exert themselves. It is also, significantly, the well of vitality and energy from which the use of many powers draw. While Psyche governs how well your character can use magical powers, Endurance is often the measure of how long such exertion can go on, and what reserve of energy your character can draw from. Another significant aspect of the Attribute is recovery… whether the speed at which your character can catch their breath, or the ability to heal (or even regenerate) wounds taken during the course of play.
Endurance is the most important attribute to have if you want your character to be able to endure extraordinary hardship, perform magic or other activities over an extended period of time, to outlast anyone in prolonged conflicts, and to recover rapidly from injury.
Endurance is the most focused and simple of the attributes. A High rank in Endurance can grant a character the following:
- Healing is four times as rapid as a normal human from Earth. (A Chaos-level character heals half again as fast, and an Amber-level character heals twice as fast.) The character can heal from minor to medium scrapes, cuts, and bruises with a good night’s sleep, and only suffers inconvenience and pain from such minor or medium injuries when they’re sustained in great number across a majority of the character’s body. Recovering from a major wound is just as dramatic, allowing the character to heal from a near-incapacitating wound within a few days.
- The stress of physical exertion is lessened significantly for the character, and he can exert himself normally without sleep for days on end, without suffering the symptoms of fatigue or exhaustion. To normal people, the character seems to have an inexhaustible well of energy. Strenuous physical activity such as physical combat can be performed for extraordinary lengths of time, nearly ten times as long as any normal human.
- The character resists infection from wounds, the effects of even fatal diseases, radiation sickness, and other debilitating physical ailments to a near-inhuman degree. The character doesn’t get drunk as easily as others, and recovers from most hangovers within an hour or so.
- The character is able to hold his breath for minutes on end without difficulty, withstand extremes of torture or physical hardship, and even temporary exposure to deadly conditions such as noxious gasses, vacuum, extremes of temperature.
- Food and drink, while necessary for survival, are not as essential to the character. He can survive for days on end without water (less so in extremely arid environments), and weeks without food, though will suffer the pangs of hunger and thirst as readily as a normal person. This is balanced by an extraordinary appetite: when given the chance, the character can put away an astonishing amount of food and drink.
- The character can eventually heal nerve or tissue damage that most living beings cannot. This can include fingertips, toes, ears, or other extremities. Wounds that would leave horrific scars often heal without a trace within a few years.
The Strength Attribute covers a few related things, all concerning physical supremacy. It is the governing attribute for raw hand-to-hand unarmed combat ability, raw muscular strength, the ability to damage a foe with bare hands, and the sheer ability to withstand physical shocks and impacts. Strength is the attribute for boxing, wrestling, grappling, and simply holding onto a foe and putting the hurt on them. Like a professional boxer, a high-ranked Strength character can absorb damage such as that suffered through falls, punches, kicks, crashes, etc. Strength is also the go-to attribute for lifting things, smashing down walls, and breaking things. Contests with the other attributes can often be swayed with environmental or situational factors, but a Strength contest is the least likely to change. If your character has the higher Strength and can use it against a foe, your character will almost certain win.
Strength is the most important attribute if you want your character to excel in unarmed combat, to perform extraordinary feats of might, and to be able to withstand a tremendous amount of punishment from unarmed combat or rough-and-tumble situations.
A character developing Strength to a significant degree can use it for the following:
- Sheer muscle mass and exertion, enabling the character to lift unbelievable weights, use tremendous force in a focused manner, and regularly perform Herculean feats of brute (or finessed) strength. The character can break thick chains, lift cars, bend bars, and even push or batter through moderately thick walls without much difficulty.
- An innate mastery of unarmed combat born of physical superiority and extraordinary muscular control. This might not be represented through a formalised martial style, though the character’s reflexes, strength, and intuitive grasp of unarmed combat overcome most studied martial techniques. It’s possible for the character to be caught off guard once in a while by an unconventional move, but the character will quickly adapt said move and its counter into his repertoire.
- In bare handed combat, the character is able to inflict damage upon opponents, twisting limbs from their sockets, breaking bones, crushing soft tissue, and even throwing foes around like rag dolls. The character can deliver powerful blows that can shatter bones and pulverise tissue, smash through light armor or doors, without injury to his own body.
- Anything the character can pick up, he can throw, with distance and accuracy determined by the size, weight, and relative shape of the item. The lighter and more streamlined the item, the greater the range. The character can throw something like a fist-sized rock with the force of a cannonball.
- Extraordinary resilience against most blunt-force physical injury, from unarmed attacks, blunt weapons, falls, car crashes, concussion from explosives, or other environmental threats. The character’s sheath of muscle is enough to absorb or resist blows that would pulp tissue or cause severe blunt force trauma.
- Against mobile foes, the character is almost an immovable force, able to brace himself and withstand extraordinary force, such as a horse, a chariot, or even a small vehicle. Similarly, if the character can get a solid grasp on a moving target, he can slow it significantly or even bring it to a dead stop.
Psyche is the combination of willpower, spirit, raw mental strength, and ability to manipulate magical forces through mental exertion. It is also a measure of how attuned to the universe and to fate your character is. Whenever any contest comes down to force of mind, or magical finesse, Psyche will determine the winner. A character with a high-ranked Psyche Attribute can do amazing things: crush or sway the minds of lesser beings, detect danger, recognize others through psychic impressions, manipulate delicate magical energies, and even use brute mental force to withstand magical assaults.
A character with human Psyche is unable to use magic, their mind an open book to those with higher Psyche rankings. A Chaos level character may be able to mount a token psychic defense, use minor magic, detect obvious psychic events, and even sway others through psychic manipulation. A character with Amber Psyche is able to dominate lesser minds, to sense the presence of magic, to use magic powers great and small with some aptitude, and to get a strong sense of concealed emotions or motives.
At the highest ranks of development, Psyche can be used for some or all of the following:
- Sense the presence of magical energies in a place, whether active or recent.
- Sense the presence of other living beings in an area, unless those minds are highly shielded (the character may still be able to detect a nearby presence, however indistinct).
- Identify anyone they know by psychic impressions if they are relatively near, even if that being is concealed, utterly silent, and makes no interaction with the character.
- Read the minds of beings of much lower Psyche, usually with the aid of a Power or Trump.
- When in psychic contact with others through some means such as Trump, the character can determine a great deal about the other party unless they are taking steps to shield their mind and magical abilities.
- Implant psychic suggestions into beings of lower Psyche, usually with the aid of a Power or Trump.
- Sense the presence of magical items, such as Artifacts, those storing Sorcery spells, or Trumps.
- Sense when someone is magically spying on or observing them, through Sorcery or through use of a Trump.
- Getting a karmic “sense” of an area, determining if the inhabitants, environments, etc. are currently threatening, neutral, or benevolent.
Warfare is perhaps the most frequently called-upon attribute, as it governs all manner of armed conflict and strategic or tactical activities, as well as being the determiner of how quickly a character is able to react in a situation. Warfare represents an affinity
for all manner of armed combat – ranged and melee – as well as the ability to guide others into combat situations. It is as useful determining who would win in a sword duel, gunfight, armed skirmish, jet fighter dogfight, footrace, or even a game of chess. To the character focused in Warfare, everything is a conflict, and a high Warfare allows the character to determine the most effective path to supremacy in that conflict.
Warfare is the most important attribute if you want your character to survive and win any life-threatening challenges involving armed conflict, strategy, or quickness of reflexes.
At the highest levels of development, Warfare can be used in the following ways:
- Tactically, the character has an innate sense for the advantageous and disadvantageous points of any environment, able to analyse “the field of battle” instantaneously and determine the ideal point to counter any mode of attack or conflict.
- Assessing any foe, group, army, structure, or piece of hardware to determine strengths, weaknesses, tactics to deal with it, and ideal means of deployment in a combat situation. This can include recognition of what weapons are concealed, how they will be deployed, and what armor or defensive measures are being used.
- Analysing any environment and its inhabitants, recognising any obvious or hidden signs of an ambush, and instantly assessing where an ambush might be coming from. It is nearly impossible to surprise or ambush the character.
- Recognising fighting styles and training instantly upon a moment of studying a foe, whether familiar or not. If the being or its fighting style are known to the character, he will recognise them instantly through even the tiniest clues of body language and movement, regardless of how well the being is disguised or what form it wears.
- The character has an innate and highly effective sense for logistics, and is able to organise immense military efforts for maximum efficiency, handling all aspects of movement, communication, defensive measures, supply availability, training, maintenance, morale, and combat readiness at the highest level of competency.
- The character is a natural leader in any group organised for military endeavors, understanding how to motivate and delegate, recognising problems and addressing them immediately. In a matter of days, the character can turn a group of demoralised troops into an efficient and motivated fighting force, and can turn a skilled and seasoned group of soldiers into an elite fighting force like none the world has known.
- A keen understanding of morale also translates to the enemy, giving the character an insight into the best means of causing enemy morale to plummet, using psychological tactics to cause the foe to fight less effectively, lose clarity of communication, and feel hopeless against the character’s own forces.
- Through firsthand experience or intuitive understanding, the character is familiar with almost any weapon or piece of defensive equipment, no matter where in history or whatever shadow world it came from, and will be able to use it to the best of his ability. Even military equipment that is utterly alien will take almost no time to decipher and employ in combat.
- In personal, armed combat, the character is dominant against any foe, no matter what weapons and armor are used, no matter what the rules of engagement are. In short, in any straight-up fight, the character will win, hands down. This dominance can only be countered through the unexpected, through intervention of other forces, serious environmental forces, or by switching a conflict to another attribute such as Strength or Psyche. The only way to counter the character through Endurance is to hopefully absorb so much damage as to tire him out, a less-than-ideal means of winning a conflict.
- The character’s reactions are incredibly, blindingly fast, enabling him to dodge any incoming missile fire he is aware of, avoid or parry almost any physical blows, and act before the words or gestures of any spell are performed. Even if surprised the character can likely act before any ambusher.
- Any game involving a strategic element can be easily won by the character, the ideal principles of play and best tactics divined quickly and used to best advantage. The character only tends to lose at games with an overwhelmingly random element, though he can minimise the effects of randomness as much as strategically possible.